Santa Barbara on Screen
A Roundup of SBIFF 2011’s Santa Barbara Filmmakers
Thursday, January 27, 2011
With some of the film industry’s most esteemed executives meandering State Street for the next 10 days, there’s no better time for filmmakers with Santa Barbara connections to get their stuff seen on the big screen by people who matter. And that might make quite a difference this year, for the offerings are as strong as ever.
“What I noticed right away was a high level of emotional sophistication and depth in the Santa Barbara filmmaker movies this year — these are movies that will touch you,” said Russ Spencer, who programs these hometown helmers. “It’s encouraging to see Santa Barbara filmmakers really striving to make films with their own interior logic and tone, instead of trying to make copies of films that have already been done, or copying another director’s style.”
This year’s crop in the Santa Barbara Filmmakers program includes three narrative features, four documentaries, and 25 short films. Here’s a rundown.
To Be Friends
That Side of a Shadow: There’s an amazing degree of promise in almost every aspect of this drug-addled saga about a strung-out dude who’s put his buddy’s life on the line over a gambling debt. With long scenes of intense dialogue reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs and a strung-out realism along the lines of Requiem for a Dream, Ricky Fosheim’s feature-length directorial debut shows that he’s got the chops for bigger tasks while putting on serious acting displays from almost everyone on-screen. From the methodically catchy opening credits to the messed-up climax, you can’t help but wonder what Fosheim will do next.
All Alone: Although not quite as polished as That Side of a Shadow, this camping thriller centered on two love-crossed couples makes for quite a tense ride at times. Directed by stage veteran Jon Cellini and starring Santa Barbara-born actor/producer Suzy Coté — who, together with other stars of the film, founded an independent production company called BananaSeat Films — this film follows two failing marriages into the woods, where a diabolical plan goes all wrong.
To Be Friends: It was a family affair producing this film — the Eckhart family, to be specific, with famous actor Aaron Eckhart serving as an executive producer for his directing/writing older brother, James Eckhart, and their siblings and parents also throwing in some help along the way. This examination of intimacy is a story focused on platonic friends careening toward romance.
Bringing The King to China